Senate approves budget deal

30 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Budget agreement forces new look at oft-panned proposals.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING — SENATE SENDS BUDGET DEAL TO OBAMA: The Senate voted 64-35 early this morning to send the two-year budget agreement to President Barack Obama, paving the way to raise the Budget Control Act spending caps by $80 billion and to take the debt limit off the table until early 2017. WASHINGTON — Legislation sparing the country the specter of a catastrophic default and partial government shutdown is ready for President Barack Obama’s signature after the Senate passed it by a comfortable margin. The Braves drove us to distraction and brought “termination” to Frank Wren, the general manager who built them, by swinging big, missing big and spitting the bit in September. Obama called one feature in the deal an “irresponsible budget gimmick.” And Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz warily labeled another part “a very slippery slope” to be avoided.

Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke for the hour he was allowed under Senate rules (No, it wasn’t a filibuster.) and attempted to raise a budget “point of order” to kill the deal. Democrats teamed with Republican defense hawks to overcome opposition from conservatives including two GOP senators running for president — Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Obama had negotiated the accord, passed by the House earlier this week, with congressional leaders who were intent on avoiding the brinkmanship and shutdown threats that have haunted the institution for the past several years.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. senators voted 63-35 to advance the accord negotiated between top Hill leaders and the White House — the final legislative accomplishment of now-former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who officially handed the reins of the House to Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday. Yet, the budget agreement racing through Congress adds money to that very same account — $16 billion this year, and a similar amount is likely the following year.

Asked why it was no longer a “slush fund” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the previous effort “didn’t lift the (spending) caps in a way we felt was legitimate,” and didn’t provide relief to non-defense programs and defense programs alike. “When both sides get what they want from gimmicks, nobody complains about them,” said Ed Lorenzen, a longtime congressional aide now serving as senior adviser at the Committee for a Responsible Budget. The 16-year veteran of Congress received the support of all but nine of his colleagues in an election to replace John Boehner on Thursday, ending a tumultuous monthlong period for the Republican Party and the House of Representatives. The discussion is tied to the release of O’Hanlon’s book, “The Future of Land Warfare,” looking at scenarios where large conventional forces may be necessary. In an hour-long speech that delayed the final vote to around 3 a.m., Paul said Congress is “bad with money.” He railed against increases in defense dollars supported by Republicans and domestic programs supported by Democrats.

Even so, the rule had enjoyed broad support in the caucus and on the Senate side, where 11 GOP senators have co-sponsored a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. CARTER HEADS TO THE PACIFIC: Defense Secretary Ash Carter is embarking on an eight-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region, stopping at the annual U.S-Republic of Korea Security Consultative Meeting in Seoul and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Plus meeting in in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to the Pentagon. Cruz said the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate had given Obama a “diamond-encrusted, glow-in-the-dark Amex card” for government spending.

Members of the Obama administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also panned selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pay for other basic functions of government. THE WEEK THAT WAS: It was arguably one of the most eventful and consequential weeks of the year for the defense world, which started with a surprise budget deal that will provide the Pentagon with two years of stable budgeting — not to mention a higher topline that is likely to prevent any major cutbacks for this fiscal year. The deal would also avert a looming shortfall in the Social Security disability trust fund that threatened to slash benefits, and head off an unprecedented increase in Medicare premiums for outpatient care for about 15 million beneficiaries. The award of the bomber boosted Northrop Grumman’s stock $10 to $190.07 at closing Thursday, a 5.6 percent increase from its opening share price Monday. If we begin to treat it as that, I think we risk selling at the wrong time, at the wrong price, and losing its substantial benefits,” she said. “This is a high-cost gimmick to let some people avoid facing the fact that loopholes for millionaires and giant corporations are leaving us with too little money to keep our highways in working order and to fund essential services like medical research,” Warren said.

The cuts include curbs on Medicare payments for outpatient services provided by certain hospitals and an extension of a 2-percentage-point cut in Medicare payments to doctors through the end of a 10-year budget. PENTAGON SAYS IT’S INVESTIGATING, via CNN’s Greg Clary and Barbara Starr: “Some 40 personnel from the home base of the military blimp that broke loose Wednesday are now at the site where it landed, a U.S. military official told CNN. LOCKHEED MARTIN NAMES NEW F-35 PROGRAM LEADER: Jeff Babione will be the new head of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the company announced Thursday.

Lorraine Martin has led the F-35 program since March 2013 when Orlando Carvalho was moved out of the role — seen then as an attempt to improve the contractor’s often-troubled relationship with the Pentagon over the flagship next-generation fighter program. Martin will become the deputy executive vice president of Mission Systems and Training, a new position with more responsibility, spokesman Mike Rein said.

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